Francis Bacon: Portrait of Lover And Muse George Dyer Auctioned

Francis Bacon: Portrait of Lover And Muse George Dyer Auctioned

Francis Bacon’s monumental single portrait of George Dyer, his celebrated muse and lover, marks a significant moment in the annals of Bacon’s career. This May, the painting is poised to realise a staggering $50 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

The “Portrait of George Dyer Crouching” canvas was recently exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. It was a standout feature of the lauded exhibition “Man and Beast” (January 29 – April 14, 2022).

The impending sale precedes yet another major museum showcase of Bacon’s oeuvre, slated to take place at the National Portrait Gallery in London this October.

Offered at $30 million to $50 million, the portrait of Dyer enters the market without a guarantee, a testament to the confidence in the painting and the auction process by the vendor. Despite a reported 7% decline in the auction market in 2023, as noted in the latest Art Basel/UBS Art Market report, Barker remains optimistic. He views the reintroduction of a work of such unparalleled quality and rarity as a significant market event. In challenging times, Barker asserts, discerning buyers gravitate towards the most exceptional pieces, albeit acknowledging that a select few inhabit the market’s upper echelons —-

This exceptional painting offers a raw and intimate insight into their tumultuous relationship, characterised by moments of passion, intensity, and sorrow. Bacon’s unparalleled ability to capture the complexities of human emotion renders this portrait a profound reflection of their dynamic and often fraught connection. Symbolism imbued throughout hints at the depths of their love and the struggles they faced.

Grégoire Billault, Chairman for Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, underscores the profound influence of Bacon’s relationship with Dyer on his life and work, describing their bond as a driving force behind some of the artist’s most iconic creations. Indeed, Bacon’s portraits of Dyer stand as powerful testaments to their shared experiences, exploring themes of life, death, and the intricate nuances of their partnership.

The upcoming auction of Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer Crouching represents a rare opportunity for art enthusiasts to acquire a piece of history. Acquired directly from Marlborough Gallery in 1970 and held in the same family collection for over five decades, this masterpiece has never been offered on the market. Its auction debut at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Auction in New York is poised to attract significant attention, and its estimated value is $30-50 million.

Measuring over six feet tall, the portrait is a striking representation of Dyer, depicted shirtless and crouched over his discarded garment. Bacon’s distinctive style, characterised by bold brushstrokes and visceral imagery, imbues the painting with intensity and vulnerability. Dyer’s gaze, rendered with a single blood-red eye, pierces through the canvas, captivating viewers with its raw emotion and complexity.

Bacon’s fascination with Dyer is evident throughout his work, with the portrait serving as a testament to their enduring connection. From their chance encounter in Soho, London, to their tumultuous romance and eventual demise, Bacon’s paintings chronicle the highs and lows of their relationship with unparalleled depth and insight.

As Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Marquee Sales in New York, Lucius Elliott emphasises the transformative impact of Bacon’s portraits of Dyer on the trajectory of art history. With over forty paintings dedicated to his muse, Bacon’s exploration of love, lust, and disdain offers a poignant reflection of the human condition. Portrait of George Dyer Crouching stands as a testament to Bacon’s mastery of his craft, capturing the essence of his muse in all its chaotic and beautiful complexity.

Photo: © Courtesy Sotheby’s

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